Discover what to see in Bettona
Bettona was located along the Via Amerina, one of the most important communication routes to the north; this was the road that enabled the arrival of St Crispolto, who evangelized the area. The centre of Bettona, with its ellipsoidal plan, has a street running along its entire length, from the old Via di Mezzo, which connected Porta Vittorio Emanuele to Porta Romana, the two entrances to the city which are now called Porta Santa Caterina and Porta Sant’Antonio; two other pedestrian-only access points are Porta San Crispolto and Porta Primo Maggio.
Coming in through any of these entrances, you will get to Piazza Cavour, an ancient forum, where the most important buildings in the city are located, such as the ‘Palazzo Comunale’ (the Town Hall) and Palazzo Baglioni, where Malatesta Baglioni died; you will also find Palazzo della Podestà, completed in 1371, and Palazzo Biancalana, the residence of a noble Bettona family: both buildings are now home to the Museo della Città di Bettona. The museum has an archaeological section and a picture gallery, which houses works by Fiorenzo di Lorenzo, Niccolò di Liberatore, Jacopo Siculo, El Greco and Pietro Vannucci known as Perugino. The masterpieces in the collection, established in 1904, are the Adoration of Dono Doni and a terracotta depicting St Anthony of Padua.
After visiting the art gallery, you can go to the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, with the adjacent chapel of the Compagnia della Morte, which is completely covered in frescoes, and then to the Oratorio di Sant’Andrea, a Baroque-style building that houses a spectacular cycle of late-Giotto frescoes. Passing by the 19th-century fountain in the piazza, built on an ancient medieval well, you will reach Piazza Garibaldi where you will see the church of San Crispolto, founded by the Benedictines in the 13th century. From there you can walk along the town’s alleys and feast your eyes on the multicoloured flowers grown by the locals in their gardens; as you come out through one of the gateways, walk under the Etruscan and medieval walls and enjoy the sensational panoramic views.
The convent of Sant’Antonio, an important site from an artistic and historical point of view, stands a short walk from the centre but is unfortunately abandoned and in ruins. Moving away from the town centre and walking through Bettona’s natural surroundings, you will come across various lovely little ancient churches, such as San Gregorio, Sant’Onofrio and San Quirico, a Benedictine abbey in the hamlet of Cerreto.
Heading down towards Passaggio, do stop to admire Villa Boccaglione and the former Abbazia di San Crispolto; if instead you head down towards Colle, don’t miss the Etruscan tomb, situated where the ancient Etruscan necropolis of Bettona was located.